Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
Biography: oct 2021 tour
Tomo Keller, violin
Harvey De Souza, violin
Jennifer Godson, violin
Martin Burgess, violin
Robert Smissen, viola
Fiona Bonds, viola
Stephen Orton, cello
Will Schofield, cello
The Academy Chamber Ensemble was formed in 1967, drawing its membership from the world-renowned chamber orchestra the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, which was itself founded by Sir Neville Marriner in 1958 and is currently led by Music Director Joshua Bell. The purpose behind the formation of the Chamber Ensemble was to perform the larger scale chamber music repertoire with players who customarily worked together, instead of the usual string quartet with additional guests. Drawn from the principal players of the orchestra and play-directed by Academy Director / Leader Tomo Keller, the Chamber Ensemble now performs in multiple configurations from wind trios to string octets. Its touring commitments are extensive and include regular tours of Europe and North America, whilst recording contracts with Philips Classics, Hyperion, and Chandos have led to the release of over thirty CDs.
The Academy Chamber Ensemble’s October 2018 tour of the United States and Canada is supported by Maria Cardamone and Paul Matthews, together with the American Friends of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The American Friends was founded in 1998 to support the work of the Academy around the world, particularly in the USA. Find out more at www.asmf.org
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“an ensemble of first-rate musicians, technically superb, generously expressive, and obviously enjoying themselves.”
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“impressively seamless ensemble”
Chicago Classical Review
“impressive sophistication and complexity of phrasing, elegant articulation and an impeccable sense of balance… What sets the Academy apart from other ensembles is its exceptional musical intelligence.”
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The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
Individual member bios
Tomo Keller (violin) was born in Stuttgart in 1974, to German-Japanese musicians, and started playing the violin at the age of six. At ten years old he gave his first performances with orchestra. He studied at Vienna’s University for Music and Performing Arts and New York’s Juilliard School of Music. Numerous top prizes and awards followed, at the Fritz Kreisler Competition, the Johannes Brahms Competition, and the German Music Competition Berlin where he was awarded the Grand Prize. He was also the first instrumentalist to receive the Aalto Stage Prize for young musicians. He has since performed at major concert halls all around the world, most recently at the new Philharmonic Halls of Hamburg and Paris and has been invited both as soloist and chamber musician to music festivals such as the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele and Festival de Musica Manuel de Falla. He has also been a frequent guest on radio and television broadcasts on ARD, BBC, NHK and ORF. As a soloist Tomo has performed with the Beethovenhalle Orchestra Bonn, St Petersburg Camerata, London Symphony Orchestra, Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Concert tours have led him all across Europe, as well as Russia, Asia, America and the Middle East.
Tomo Keller is a much sought-after orchestral leader, having led the London Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Leader from 2009-2015. In 2014 he became first concert master of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared with more than 20 orchestras as guest leader all over Europe, the US and Asia. Tomo was appointed Leader of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in December 2015. Tomo’s recordings include solo works by Bach, Bartók and Ysaÿe, orchestral recordings including Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète with Sir John Eliot Gardiner/LSO, and Avant Gershwin with Patti Austin and the WDR Big Band, which was awarded a Grammy in 2008. He has given violin, chamber music and orchestral masterclasses at all major London Music Colleges as well as at Yale University and numerous other schools in the US and the Far East.
Tomo Keller plays the 1709 ‘Crafoord’ Stradivarius violin, kindly made available to him by the Swedish Järnåker Foundation.
Harvey de Souza (violin) has been a member of the Academy since 1993 and has led the orchestra on tours with Sir Neville Marriner and soloists including Joshua Bell and Julia Fischer. As a member of the Chamber Ensemble he has performed extensively throughout South America, Europe and the USA.
Harvey has been a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and a member of the Vellinger String Quartet, who were winners of the 1994 London International String Quartet Competition. He has been Principal Guest Director of the Lancashire Sinfonietta, and is co-artistic director of the Sangat Chamber Music Festival, now in its seventeenth year in Mumbai. Harvey plays on a Carlo Bergonzi, kindly lent to him by the Beare’s International Violin Society.
Jennifer Godson (violin) has been a member of the Academy since 1985. She was for many years a member of the Fairfield String Quartet with whom she toured extensively in Britain and abroad. She now leads a busy chamber and orchestral career and has a special interest in period performance. She is sub-leader of John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique and a member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with whom she has appeared as guest leader.
Martin Burgess (violin) began playing with the Academy in 1992, taking up the position of Principal Second Violin in 1998. Having studied with Emanuel Hurwitz and the Amadeus Quartet he brought with him the love of chamber music. He leads the Grammy nominated Emperor Quartet (winners of the prestigious Evian International String Quartet Competition). The Quartet has released critically acclaimed CDs of music by Britten, Walton, Martinu and James MacMillan. They have also performed on several film soundtracks, notably There Will Be Blood and Norwegian Wood (both written by Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead).
Martin enjoys a wide variety of playing away from both these ensembles, most recently recording and then touring the world with Peter Gabriel.
Robert Smissen (viola) won a scholarship to Chethams School of Music at the age of 14, and went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music with David Takeno. While there he won prizes for chamber music and solo playing. After college he was appointed principal viola with the Northern Sinfonia, a post he held until 1986. He currently plays with the Academy, as well as other London chamber orchestras.
Fiona Bonds (viola) is Associate Principal Viola of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and enjoys a busy and diverse career outside the orchestra. She has recently been appointed Principal Viola of the City of London Sinfonia and is a founder member of the Grammy-nominated Emperor String Quartet, who have recently released a critically acclaimed disc of Benjamin Britten’s quartets.
Stephen Orton (cello) was born in Ripon, Yorkshire, and studied with William Pleeth at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has been principal cello with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and the City of London Sinfonia and was also a member of the Delmé Quartet for ten years. He has acted as guest principal cello with the London Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia. Stephen has wide experience of chamber music and has often played the Schubert Quintet with the Chilingirian Quartet. In 1985 Stephen became principal cello with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and has played concertos with the orchestra. He is also a member of the Academy Chamber Ensemble, touring internationally and making numerous recordings. He has recently joined the Chilingirian Quartet in 2013.
Will Schofield (cello) was born in London to Australian and Italian parents. He read music at Edinburgh University and went on to study with Radu Aldulescu in Rome and at the Menuhin Academy in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Will has been cellist with the Grammy nominated Emperor String Quartet since the group was formed in 1992. He started playing with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields the following year, and membership of these two groups has been the primary focus of his playing career ever since. With the Quartet he has played throughout Europe, North and South America and in Africa, appearing at all of the major festivals in the UK and at numerous festivals abroad including Prague Spring Festival, ‘Mostly Mozart’ New York, Flanders, Monte Carlo, Montpelier/Radio France and Kuhmo in Finland. The Quartet records for BIS, the latest project being a complete cycle of Britten. He has also played as a guest with the Allegri and Maggini Quartets and with the Schubert Ensemble of London.
With the Academy Will has had the opportunity to play the key repertoire for Chamber Orchestra at the highest level, working and recording with musicians such as Murray Perahia, Joshua Bell, Janine Jansen, Julia Fischer and, of course, Sir Neville Marriner.
As a freelance cellist Will has played as Guest Principal Cello with many of the country’s top orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra, and with orchestras in Ireland and Spain. He has played on numerous film soundtracks, and with the Emperor Quartet has collaborated with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood on several projects, most notably the soundtrack to the 2007 movie There Will Be Blood.
2019-20 season. Please discard previous or undated materials. Musicians subject to change.